Artemis Sere Returns to Ritual Madness Podcast for Best Music 2020 Show

Ritual Madness Podcast Episode 216 with Artemis Sere Best Music Albums of 2020

Unique to my 10th annual best music blog, I visited the Hexican's Ritual Madness Podcast to chat about the best music of 2020. I unveiled my Top 10 albums of 2020, and the Hexican added a few to round out our list. 

It's always a pleasure to chat with brother Hexican, and we indulged in a healthy podcast that dug deep into our personal struggles through this challenging covid year.

Clocking in at over 3.5 hrs, this podcast includes 14 new tunes, chat about the artists that made our favorite tunes of 2020, and exposition of our current artistic endeavors, including the Hexican's new adventure with tie-dying (check it out on Facebook or Instagram, if possible)!

It's the first time that I've brought one of my music lists to air, and it was a lot of fun playing pudnit for a spell. 

If you're interested in giving the podcast a listen, you can click here to find it on the Ritual Madness Podcast website, or click on the flyer below to access the podcast page.

Enjoy!

Ritual Madness Podcast Episode 216 with Artemis Sere Best Music Albums of 2020

Artemis Sere’s Twenty Best Music Albums of 2020

Artemis Sere's Twenty Best Music Albums of 2020

This list is not genre or market specific. This list reflects the diversity of my interests. This list is not based on listening to any radio, podcasts, or influencer pundits. My appreciation for music is relatively broad, but you'll find a heavier edge to recent lists - reflective of the seasons of my life.

This list is the 10th anniversary of my attempt to catalog, track, and recommend the best music of the previous year. 

Please spread the word and share this guidance with your network, and pay forward these suggestions of high quality, relatively underrated music and musicians. 

Check out my YouTube playlist featuring clips from every album, linked at the end of this list.

And if you're feeling bold, drop a comment on this blog and let me know what you think. What's on your list of favorite albums for 2020?

I appreciate your interest in my Art and music opinion. Enjoy!

#yearofCivility

1/1/2021 Edit
Removed (20) The Tech Theives, "The Blue EP"; (18) Puscifer "Existential Reckoning"; (13) DevilDriver "Dealing with Demons 1"

Added (20) Sevendust "Blood & Stone"; (18) Missio "Can You Feel the Sun?"; (13) Rabbit Junk "Xenospheres"

20

SEVENDUST
Blood & Stone

Late addition to this list: After recent nerd sessions with "Blood & Stone", I felt compelled to add this album to the list post-publish. While not a classic Sevendust record, it is solid and entertaining. Cover of Soundgarden's "The Day I Tried to Live" is the main reason this album made the list. Classic cover of a classic song.

19

AVATAR
Hunter Gatherer

I wasn't greatly impressed with Avatar's new album altogether, but "Colossus" is a standout tune in their catalog overall. It was one of my most-listened to songs this year, and suggests the awesome potential of this continually entertaining, but somewhat-inconsistent band.

18

MISSIO
Can You Feel The Sun?

Another late addition to the list post-publish: the more I listened to Missio's new album, the more it stuck with me. I can't say the same with Puscifer's "Existential Reckoning", which previously held this spot. The title track is heartwarming and pleasant, and the rest of the album is catchy and cool. It was originally on my Top 20 list for 2020, but I pulled it. I'm putting it back where it belongs.

17

BREAKING BENJAMIN
Aurora

I've been a Breaking Benjamin fan since the beginning, and it's fun to hear stripped-down, acoustic versions of some of the best songs in their catalog. I would've chosen some different songs if the list was up to me, but "Failure" turned out to be one of my favorite tunes of their most recent albums and sounds amazing in the "Aurora" format.  Sweet team-up with Scooter Ward from Cold. On the other hand, some of their Aurora-fied songs sound a bit too country for this rock fan (duet with Lacey Sturm), which is why it ranks so low on my Top 20. Great musicians, great atmosphere, great chillax music.

16

DEFTONES
Ohms

An Ohm is a unit used to measure the electrical resistance of a material or an electrical device. How that fits into the sublime art of the Deftones remains to be seen. I respect the music of the Deftones, even if I don't completely love it or flow with it. Their vibe usually gets through to me in time. I'm certainly not on the same wavelength as band co-founder and Flat Earther Stephen Carpenter.

15

FATES WARNING
Long Day Good Night

Last year featured Flotsam & Jetsam as my #1 album of 2019 - a band that has had amazing longevity of almost 40 years on the metal scene. Fates Warning shares that honor, formed in 1982. Long gone are the days of MTV hits, Headbanger's Ball, and a thriving progressive metal scene. Yet, Fates Warning continues to create amazing music in what should be their twilight years. Not consistent or catchy enough to be a top album of 2020, but still strong enough to best most metal acts in this day and age by sheer musicianship and talent alone.

14

STATIC-X
Project Regeneration (Vol. 1)

A testament to modern technology, Project Regeneration features the voice of Wayne Static years after his death in 2014. Pulled from previously-unreleased material and augmented by rock and metal greats like David Draiman, Dez Fafara, Al Jourgenson, and Edsel Dope, who is the suspected masked lead of the touring band as "Xer0". If anything, the album and tour reminds us how amazingly talented Wayne Static was. And how much he is missed.

13

RABBIT JUNK
Xenospheres

Another late addition to the top 20 of 2020. Sadly, since I was off social media, I didn't know this band released a new album in October 2020. Once I heard it, I married it hardcore, but it just goes to show how hard it is for lesser known bands to connect with their audience and keep them informed of what's new. I haven't been living under a rock. Mostly. An awesome album, but I do miss a little bit of the unpolished, rough experience of Rabbit Junk. I miss the imperfections and edginess of "Reframe", but "Xenospheres" is still great Junk.

12

TRIVIUM
What the Dead Men Say

Matthew Heafy is one of my favorite musicians in metal. His vocal range and musical creativity are inspiring and awesome. For knowing what dead men say, Heafy employs boundless life behind his soaring voice and chords. Trivium is generally underrated by rock and metal, has been for over a decade. Smart metal, edgy arrangements, and echoes of rage, this album plays like an angry elegy.

11

IAMX
Echo Echo

There's no denying the beauty in this album. Like Breaking Benjamin's "Aurora", "Echo Echo" is an album of all-acoustic, stripped-down covers of songs from IAMX's catalog. There are extremely powerful and touching acoustic renditions that highlight Chris Corner's awesome range and style, without the electronic makeup and accoutrements that regularly flesh the tones of IAMX. I appreciate the serendipity of one of my favorite artists releasing such an amazing creation at the same time as I released "Echoprism" in January 2020; a synchronicity of creative echoes, tonal masterpieces in time. Touching, poignant, reverberant.

10

GHOSTEMANE
Anti-Icon

Bizarre horror electro-rap metal that is crazy infectious.

9

TESTAMENT
Titans of Creation

Like Fates Warning and Flotsam & Jetsam, Testament has been cranking out consistently powerful metal since the early 80s. At nearly 60 years old, Frontman Chuck Billy has bested cancer and time to continue his dominance. With no sign of slowing down. Still producing some of the best metal in their catalog, Testament brings the speed and darkness with "WWIII", "Night of the Witch", "False Prophet' and "The Healers".

8

SUICIDE SILENCE
Become the Hunter

Brutal as a buzzsaw and violent as a buzzard picking at a corpse,  this is deathcore at its finest, most rigorous moment. Brilliantly diabolical vocals with menacing timing and screeching guitars. This silence is ironic, a paradox of the stillness of suicide with guitars that shred and vox that wails.

7

KILLER BE KILLED
Reluctant Hero

Killer Be Killed is a new supergroup featuring Dillinger Escape Plan frontman Greg Puciato, Sepultura and Soulfly god Max Cavalera, Mastadon viking-for-hire Troy Sanders, and Ben Koller. The convergence of Greg, Max and Troy has led to a marriage of diverse styles and sounds that mix perfectly, truly one of the best ragers of the year. 

6

BASSNECTAR
All Colors

And now for a sound completely different - electronic music/dubstep master Lorin Ashton. I have a soft spot for electronic music and dubstep, though I listen to it a lot less now than years previous. Lorin grew up playing death metal, and he brings that heavy style to his hypnotic, sonic landscapes and adventures. Sweet team-ups with Blakkamoore, Ashel Seasunz, Rodney P, DJ Pound, and - always my favorite Bassnectar collaborator - Zion I.

5

NIGHT CLUB
Die Die Lullaby

I think gothpop is blissfully entertaining, like a Tim Burton movie set to great music on repeat. Emily Kavanaugh and Mark Brooks have elevated an ironic, necessary genre at a time when our society needs it most. Their musicianship is precise; their ironic videos, messages, and marketing are complementary, honest, and perfect. "Die Die Lullaby" sounds like the background music that I imagine plays at a seedy night club filled with sleazy dudes and scantily-dressed vixens. I wouldn't know anymore, so it's fun to live vicariously the Night Club personas and characters. It's all just gossip, so shut your dirty mouth.

4

SKYND
Columbine (CDS)
(plus "Chapters 1 & 2")

This is an "albums" list, built for acknowledging the full book, not just a page or a chapter. As such, I've never had a single song in my Top 20, and don't plan to make a habit of it. Skynd will be my rare exception, as her 2020 single "Columbine" deserves much attention and high appreciation. Our violence-addicted culture needs to be reminded of dark events like Columbine, as well as the spectres of our many human monsters. I only recently discovered the morbid, macabre, and brilliant artist and musician named Skynd. Like Night Club, Skynd is a mostly-electronic gothrock or pop act fronted by a uber-talented woman and her "gimps". Little is known about this mysterious band, including where they're originally from. I couldn't leave Skynd off my list since it had such a profound impact on me in 2020, from musicianship to video production quality to story content and concepts. "Columbine" features musician Bill $aber and continues Skynd's trend of cinema-quality movie videos to accompany their music. They have accomplished this feat with each song on their previous two albums (Chapters 1 & 2), and I implore you to check out the other stories captures with their spooky and inspiring work.

3

BODY COUNT
Carnivore

Body Count's message was always necessary and relevant, but even more so in 2020, a year that featured the murder of George Floyd, racial tension, riots, and cultural unrest. "Bum-Rush" was nominated for a 2021 Grammy award for Best Metal Performance, but there are stronger songs on the album worthy of addiction. ICE-T continues to drive culture-challenging, issue-inspired with his collection of metal masters. 

2

CODE ORANGE
Underneath

"Underneath" was nominated for the same award as Body Count. Code Orange is no stranger to the Grammy nod, as their previous album "Forever" (which I loved) was nominated in 2017/2018. Their music is a frenetic, hyperactive mix of metal, hiphop, industrial, electronic styles with sharp edges, heavy hits, and chilling shrills. The brilliance of Code Orange mostly dwells in their ability to change up their styles based on who is leading the song - frontman Eric or guitarist Reba. As with previous albums, the brightest spots exist when Reba is voxing for Code Orange, providing a dichotomy of darkness and passion not equaled in industrial metal at the present moment. 

1

GRANDSON
Death of an Optimist
(plus all of "A Modern Tragedy", which I just discovered this year)

"Nobody really cared, so it never really mattered
It never really mattered, so it never really happened
What's the point in fightin' for a happy ever after?
The past keeps hauntin' the future I imagine

All I ever wanted was a little peace and quiet
Just color in the lines, and you'll get it like they promise
If you bite the hand, get louder and defiant
Then you'll see how quickly they come making a deposit"

Grandson was the soundtrack to my 2020, and reflected what a lot of us experienced this turbulent year. I discovered Grandson earlier this year, and have been addicted to his music ever since. Grandson is a hit machine, not just because he's a lyrical master or can slay on the guitar or pump out a memorable cover of Linkin Park's "One Step Closer", but also because he can articulate the present day with precision, passion, clarity, and raw honesty that is truly lacking in Grammy and radio-friendly music.

Like Body Count, Grandson represents aggressive change and societal upheaval. As a white person completely against white power and white privilege, most notably anti-Trump, he is the rapping, sarcastic voice of the antithesis, and a persona that I can relate to completely. He is clever with his criticism, calculated with his attacks. He is creative with duality of identity (even if the "X" persona is a bit overdone), and is a multimedia and social media master. His cinematic productions are engaging, and his topics are timely and necessary. Singles released during 2020 - "Identity", "Riptide", "Dirty", and "We Did It!" previewed the greatness of "Death of an Optimist" long before its December release and provided perfect commentary for this divisive and difficult election year.

But I'm not notching him number one on my list for "Death of an Optimist" alone. No, I first discovered Grandson via the track "6:00", which was released a couple of years ago and sounds and plays like a scene pulled from the darkness and chaos of 2020. 

"There's no difference between you and I
We share the same sunshine from the same sky
When it rains, it rains on both you and I
Gotta sink or swim, now it's do or die

It goes hashtag, bodybag, toe tag
Shot in the chest
It goes hashtag, bodybag
Even when I'm on my last breath"

Grandson would've dominated my 2018 and 2019 lists with his release "A Modern Tragedy" if I had known about him. Out of respect for BLM, George Floyd, Breona Taylor, and the countless others that suffered racial injustice in 2020 that led to riots and protests that began in my home area of Minneapolis and spread throughout the world, I give you Grandson, an unassuming, mop-headed voice for unity, truth, and justice.

My optimism is on life support. "Death of an Optimist" is an appropriate biography of how I got to the ER.

Artemis Sere's Twenty Best Albums of 2020
YouTube Playlist

Other Annual Best Album Blogs

2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019

Artemis Sere’s Twenty Best Albums of 2019

Artemis Sere's Best Albums of 2019

If this is your first time visiting one of my annual "Best of Lists", thanks for stopping by and checking out what I have deemed "listen-worthy" for the previous year.  If you're a repeat visitor, I deeply appreciate your continued interest in my musical opinion.

I publish this to give you recommendations of what to check out, and to remind myself of what was my favorite for a given year. Every year is different, and some years have stronger lists than others - especially as my tastes vary and change with the trends in my life. For instance, while my dubstep phase may be eclipsed by a renewed appreciation for metal (see my #metalmorphosis), I still feel the undercurrents of techno, industrial, ambient, electronica and various other styles of edgy music.

My tastes have generally drifted from "rock", and I now find it somewhat difficult to go backwards into my hairband past. "The Dirt" - the retelling of the life of Motley Crue - made me more ashamed of my history with some types of music, and forced me to reconsider my perspective of much of my music background.

As my #1 album of 2019 anthemically reminds, "Don't be a prisoner of time".

As I have matured, so has my taste -- not just in music content, but the artist behind the creation. They are inseparable, as politicians are from their history. While everyone deserves redemption, attonement for the past is necessary. Politics have greatly changed my approach to art and artists, and I no longer stand for hypocrisy of message. If you're a bigot, liar, ignoramus, bully or abuser as an artist, I'm not a big fan of you as a human.

And I'm #humanfirst.

Art imitates life, and I want my artistic connections and recommendations to reflect a certain integrity (eg. let's put the "rock star" concept to death).

I'm sure your list would be different than mine if you created one, and I'm energetically interested in what would be on your list. I've been compiling annual "Best of" lists since 2010, and these lists have created powerful sonic footprints in my past.  Each of our influences are individual and reflect our personalities and human stories, often intersecting in the music that we listen to and share.

In 2020, we need a common platform upon which we can all stand for civility. In Art I trust.

Some unique traits of my "Best Albums" list:

  1. These are generally not radio-friendly albums. While I certainly embrace all music, I no longer listen to the radio. At all. Satellite or broadcast or otherwise. My influences come from personal research, network suggestions and historical influences. The labels I support aren't usually big-ticket Corporations, and the bands I listen to are rarely traveling around on lux buses paid for by big budgets, unless they've earned it through surviving the gauntlet of being a changemaker and a road warrior. 
  2. I listen to everything from Slayer to Enya (minus country music) and bands from all over the planet. I'd like to think my music ear is diverse, but I gravitate toward my sonic staples: industrial/ambient/electronica and/or dubstep, hard rock, machine rock, heavy metal, and hybrids of all.  My list of 20 is an intersection of a variety of styles and sounds, and is not specific to a single genre (or from a single geographic location). While my list is relatively gender-balanced, I have recognized that this list lacks ethnic diversity; I promise to find a way to include more ethnic diversity in future lists (eg. Body Count's new album is already on the top of my charts for 2020). 
  3. My list DOES NOT reflect socially-"popular music", chart-friendly creations or trendy music personalities that walk red carpets, troll headlines, plastic their person, twerk in public, release pandering albums praising Jesus with primary intent to enter into the prosperty gospel racket, and/or enjoy E! spats with other artists.
  4. This list is subject to change. For a few years, I was publishing "Respun" music blogs in the middle of the year to tap the pulse of what I'm listening to that isn't on the "new albums" list. This gave me the ability to revise my Top 20 for the previous year, and add albums that I may have missed. For example, one of my favorite albums of last year was was from one of my favorite artists: IAMX's "Alive in New Light". It was released in 2018 and somehow I missed it. If i were to rewrite my Best of List for 2018, it would have prominent placement. My point: I'm always coming across great music that I missed during the previous year. This list is a snapshot in time, but has been a great playlist picture for me every year.

Please spread the word and share this guidance with your network, pay forward these suggestions of high quality music. 

Check out my YouTube playlist featuring clips from every album. And if you're feeling bold, drop a comment on this blog and let me know what you think. What's on your list of favorite albums for 2019?

I appreciate your interest in my Art. Enjoy!

#yearofCivility

20

DEVIN TOWNSEND
 
Empath

If heavy metal met Disney with Hevy Devy at the helm.
Insert angelic chorus and acid trip here.

19

ELIENE
All Shall Burn (EP)

A pretty band with a pretty sound with some pretty Lacuna Coil-esque looks and hooks. I give them much credit for their spot-on cover of Rammstein's "Mein Herz Brennt" and well-placed tattoos. An intriguing mix of Within Temptation, Evanescence, In This Moment and Huntress (lightspeed, Jill Janus), though lacking much differentiating personality beyond the sweet ink, growls and bodices. Continues my frustration with EPs - if you're going to put out an album, do better than a few songs. Two original songs and a good cover are not enough to get a solid read on a band. 

18

IN FLAMES
I, Mask

In Flames have had a long, strange road. A fan since "Clayman", I've seen this band go through many changes in sound and approach. They've produced some great music, and this album has shades of that greatness, but never achieves it fully. I'd love to see them get back to a rugged edge and spit shine. This mask doesn't suit them well, but perhaps there's no way to reroute to remain in flames.

17

K. FLAY
Solutions

I love K.Flay's chilltastic style and flow.  A sweet voice in a bitter year, a breath of fresh, sarcastic air. K. Flay should own any popularity that Billie Eilish has. K. Flay and Dessa Darling would be a sweet team-up.

16

RAMMSTEIN
Rammstein

"Rammstein" is a good example of an album that I don't love, but like a lot, and give Rammstein complete respect and apprecation for the strange, sarcastic, shocking, and sometimes divisive music they continue to pump out. As an artist who often crosses the line into activism, I can appreciate the challenging themes they tackle, the stark visuals they employ, and the lengths they go to tell their stories. Having lived in Deutschland for most of my youth, I have a soft spot for German artists, the stout culture and the difficult history they've endured (admittedly, much of their own making). Cheers to freedom of expression!

15

MODESTEP
Echoes (EP) & Dawn (EP)

Two EPs don't equal a full album, but I applaud the differences in contrast between these two bombastic releases and am including them both on my lsit. There are still echoes of Dubstep in my veins, and Modestep was of the first bands that got me dropping. Great to hear them still making music.

14

SOILWORK
Verkligheten

A dreamy, harmonious reality. 

13

CANDLEMASS
The Door to Doom

 Candlemass went back to its roots with Door to Doom, and brought back their very first vocalist, Johan Längqvist (32 years after their first album). I'll always prefer Messiah Marcolin and Robert Lowe, but this album is solid and sounds great with Johan. With legend Tony Iommi adding guitars, Candlemass is as doomy and gloomy as ever. 

12

TOOL
Fear Inoculum

For their first album in 13 years, I give Tool props - they're still engaging, exploratory and effective. This isn't the Tool I grew up with, though; this isn't the band with the hooks and punching power of "Sober" or "Aenima". This tool is a slow-speed drill to lobotomize. Their sound now dwells somewhere between Opeth and A Perfect Circle - contemplative and brooding, progressive and puzzling, like the duality of their new logo. I contend that Maynard is nearing creative exhaustion and overexposure, much like another artist on this list (Corey Taylor, Slipknot). Still, one must appreciate the art that Tool creates. I certainly still do, and hope they continue to explore the boundaries of sound.

11

OPETH
In Cauda Venenum

It's hard for me to put my finger on what I find lacking in latest creations of Opeth. From 2000-2010, I loved just about everything they created. Now, I'm not on the same vibe, even though their talent continues to amaze. While they still create deep, gloomy and brooding work, the formula seems a bit repetitive now. If the dose makes the poison, methinks they need to reduce the dosage a bit. Despite my misgivings, this is a complex, chaotic trip and represents some of the best music Opeth has to offer. I will always love Akerfeldt's voice and vocal range, and their progressive use of various instruments. As with most Opeth albums, I'm sure it will grow on me with time and require higher placement in this list.

10

SLIPKNOT
We Are Not Your Kind

This is the first Slipknot album in their storied legacy that bored me. Even now, I have a hard time picking a song on the album that really stands out, that has character and presence to stand above the rest. It's not a bad album, and Slipknot's style and talent are always welcomed and appreciated, but in years past, like Opeth, this troupe would be top of the list. Like Maynard James Kennan of Tool who also runs the successful groups A Perfect Circle and Puscifer, Corey Taylor has kept himself very busy with Stone Sour and endless slate of guest spots with other bands. I contend this overloaded creative schedule has affected the quality of Slipknot's album. I have a difficult time now distinguishing between the Stone Sour and Slipknot sounds, which is both a compliment and a criticism, considering both bands rock. However, the fact that I still have Slipknot in my Top 10 is a testament to how talented this band is, even when their art sometimes seems a bit trite and tired.

9

TÝR
Hel

Reminiscent of old Solitude Aeturnus, Candlemass, Helloween and other great European Doom bands that built great albums around myths of their land, this Viking metal band has created a rousing and powerful piece of art. Tight guitars, solid mythos, anthemic tunes. Yes, the vocals are distinctly European, and sometimes sound like emanating from a Mead Hall, but are catchy nonetheless.

8

AFTER THE BURIAL
Evergreen

I saw After the Burial open for Parkway Drive and Killswitch Engage in 2019, and they almost stole the show. If I wasn't so enamored with Parkway Drive's "Reverence" album, I would've recognized their true brilliance right away. This Minneapolis ragecore act has some serious power, angst and awesomeness, a brilliant mix of 36 Crazyfists and Demon Hunter. 

7

DEAD TO A
DYING WORLD
Elegy

More death metal bands should feature violins. Seriously. The perfect marriage of gloom moods.

6

WEDNESDAY 13
Necrophaze

One of my favorite finds of 2019. Wednesday 13 sounds and feels like a throwback to one of the true masters of metal horror, Alice Cooper. In fact, Alice Cooper is featured in the title track, adding legitimacy to Wednesday 13's horror atmosphere that Rob Zombie seldom channels well these days. Features a fun duet with Christina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil) and tracks about popular serial killers (eg. Zodiac). Bring Your Own Blood.

5

3TEETH
Metawar

Everytime I listen to the intro of "Time Slave", I get chills. Metawar is the perfect album for our present day, like "Eat the Elephant" from A Perfect Circle last year. A gritty statement on greed, corruption, and consumerism, it reflects and represents all of the present ills of the United States of Affluenza. Any American that listens to "American Landfill" or "President X" and doesn't feel something lost their soul to the machine a long time ago. In that case, this album will probably be your poison. Drink up.

4

RABBIT JUNK
Reveal (EP)

If you've made it this far, you know my opinion about EPs. Overall, I'm not a fan. I give a pass to Rabbit Junk, one of my long-time faves, because no matter what the depth and breadth of content, they always deliver powerful music. Released on the heels of my #1 album of 2018 "Meditations on Mortality", their new EP continues their distinct techno-pop-rock-metal flow. With four original songs, instrumentals, remixes, and a couple of covers (Smashing Pumpkins "Zero", theme to "Dune"), the EP feels like a full album. Admittedly, I'm still drunk from last year's tall glass of meditation, so I'm fully down with short shot of JP Anderson, Sum Grrrl and friends.

3

CYANOTIC
The Trigger Effect

Cyanotic is the glitchy, twitchy echo you hear in your head when you're unable to fall asleep, the brain in a state of dysfunction from our daily digital cycles. The resonant white noise repeating in the twilight din of blue light and blurry vision, like a nightmare dreamscape of stress hammers, soundbytes, bullet spins and Power Point slide clicks. "The Trigger Effect" is a complex album is only fully appreciated when unpacked meticulously. Layered with shrewd movie quotes, transhumanist wisdom and statements on our society, it is a necessary soundtrack to this brave new decade. My only wish is that the "Effect" was longer; Tool doesn't know when to stop a song, and Cyanotic needs to extend their trippy atmospheres into longer experiences (not just in follow-up remix albums).

2

WITHIN TEMPTATION
Resist

It's no surprise that I married this album hardcore. Every one of Within Temptation's albums of the last decade have made it on my lists, with "The Unforgiving" being my #3 album of 2011. Their following album, "Hydra", was a strange intersection of styles and personalities, very different and less consistent than the great concept album that preceded it. After "Hydra", I wasn't sure what to expect from the band featuring my favorite female vocalist, Sharon den Adel. Thus, I was reluctant to give "Resist" its due. But it truly deserves it. This album kept me company in dark times over 2019, and screams with vengeance and resistance. "The Reckoning" features Papa Roach vocalist Jacoby Shaddix, and is one of  only a few vocal duets on the album - unlike Hydra, which was awash with big-name vocalist team-ups. As a result, Sharon shines brighter than she has in previous albums. "Resist" is their tightest, most adventurous album since "The Unforgiving", and is pretty spectacular from start to finish, a message of beautiful, resonant resistance that should be bannered by all. Even the weak songs are great on repeat, mainly because of Sharon's broad vocal landscape and sonic creativity. I cannot resist, and I cannot lie: "Resist" was my most-played album of 2019, and "Firelight" was my most-played tune, the theme song of my darkest year.

1

Artemis Sere's Best Albums of 2019

FLOTSAM & JETSAM
The End of Chaos

I've been listening to Flotsam & Jetsam since high school, and "The End of Chaos" is the best, most complete, most balanced and brutal album that they've released in their catalog, and that's saying a lot. I wore my original "No Place for Disgrace" (1988) shirt to see them this year for the first time. They were one of my first metal loves, and I've been tracking them for over three decades, even though I never had the opportunity to see them live until 2019.

Radio is filled with forgettable, passable and snoozeworthy rock and metal music made for masses that are used to throwing away the past - or at least appreciating the past via samples or duets with pseudo-talented artists like Post Malone. Flotsam & Jetsam were some of the original kings of Headbangers Ball, mostly forgotten fifty-year olds with no current relevance on rock radio.

Fuck that. This was the best metal album of 2019. Chances are good that you've never listened to it, probably never heard Flotsam & Jetsam growing up, or knew that Jason Newsted of Metallica fame was originally in Flotsam & Jetsam. Here's your chance to end the chaos.

The tuneage is powerful; the lyrics are catchy; the concept is fully relevant. In 2021, Flotsam & Jetsam will celebrate their 40-year anniversary, and they haven't lost a step, and are still cranking out some of their best music in their history, despite popular metal trends and detractors.

Don't be a prisoner of time; check out this future classic today. And thank you for spending your time with my Top 20 Albums of 2019. 

Take care.

Artemis Sere's Twenty Best Albums of 2019
YouTube Playlist

Other Annual Best Album Blogs

2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019